A team of MIT researchers has developed a unique 3D printing interface that will help users design multi-material objects. The researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have followed up last year’s introduction of the multi-material 3D printer, MultiFab with a new interface, Foundry that is expected to become 3D printing’s equivalent of graphic design’s Photoshop.

Designed to be accessible to non-programmers without the barriers of cost or operational difficulties, the Foundry platform allows the designer to assign distinct material properties to each part in a composite print during rapid prototyping. For example, it could produce a dental appliance containing a rigid, tooth-like material connected to a softer and more malleable material to merge with the gums.

Compatible with any commercially available multi-material printer, Foundry currently requires users to import geometry from traditional CAD software to designate material composition. However, the researchers are looking into integrating Foundry within CAD programs. The research team also plans to add the capability to preview a part’s behaviour.